You first learned about time zones back in elementary school. The earth rotates, the sun only shines on half the earth at a given moment. When Bostonians wake up in the morning, people in New Delhi are fast asleep; when the sun shines in New Delhi, Boston is in bed. The reasoning made perfect sense.
Until you entered College Time.
In College Time, the relative positions of sun and earth bear no correlation to sleeping and waking hours. Nor does a student's nine o'clock Spanish section. Bizarre, no?
To study this phenomenon, I spent a few early morning hours seeking out the Yard's nocturnal souls and asking them why they stay up so late. I had my excuse: journalistic persistance. What was theirs?
Sleepless Matthewsians were busy with problem sets. Jonathan S. Thierman '98 was working through one for Math 25b, which he said he would rather have finished earlier, but he and his roommate "were night people in high school, so we're still night people."
Thierman did not seem to mind his predicament too much. Nor did a peppy Peter J. Kim '98, who said he was awake because "I got up late, and I'm not tired yet." Even the thought of his nine o'clock orgo class could not dampen his spunk.
Not everyone was so enthused by their late night fate--"It sucks," said James J. Gutierrez '98 as he finished his work for Math 1a, "but I'm used to it now, so I don't even notice."
Gutierrez's roommate Alex F. Chang '98 also stays up frequently, but mainly so he can work ahead. "He does his work," Gutierrez explained. "I'm the one who gets up and yells and dances."
Maybe he would feel more at home in Lionel A entry, where room 11 was packed with rowdy young men who wouldn't tell me their last names. Like Thierman, two were trying to finish Math 25b homework. They were not getting much done.
Why do they stay up so late? "There's a theory that you can learn even more about a person when their guard is down late at night," Nick philosophized after eavesdropping on Phil's phone conversation over a second extension.
"I think it's one of those things where you know it's Friday tomorrow," Phil said.
"Today!" Ted corrected. "Or," he told Phil, "maybe it's because you're waiting for your girlfriend who isn't really your girlfriend to call up"
Unfazed, Phil extolled the gossip value of late nights. "We want to make sure everyone's in bed before we're in bed so we don't miss anything."
Jenny then paid a visit from upstairs, and the group's conversation shifted to the question of what she wears under her robe. She told them she was wearing a nightie, but not a bra because one doesn't wear bras to bed.
I had trouble believing even first-years could be so hyper so late without a little chemical stimulation, so I asked whether they had been drinking coffee. "No," Nick replied, "I'm on a sedative. It's called Miller Genuine Draft." Didn't he realize it was a school night?
Ted pointed at Jenny. "She's the person who's tanked on caffeine."
"And Lucky Charms!" Jenny added.
Ted and Nick began doing Wrath of Kahn impersonations as Jenny fielded a discussion of her bra size. Somebody said she was a "C." "I wish," she sighed. "It would be nice, but I'm not. I'm a `B.'"
By this point, I fully appreciated the wisdom behind their decision to withold their last names.
Despite the scintillating conversation, I knew I had to leave; it was 4:15, and I still had half the Yard to cover.
A quick walk-through of Holworthy and Thayer revealed nothing but one late-night bather taking a shower in a common bathroom.
Weld also was silent and empty. Then, as I was about to leave, the door of room 34 squeaked open, revealing Cedar R. Riener '98 sitting in a chair by the door.
Riener was locked out of his own room down the hall. Too considerate to wake his roommates and faced with a night of sleeping in the hall, he found room 34 unlocked and resigned himself to sitting in someone else's common room and reading Sports Illustrated, which he sarcastically described as "a very intellectual pursuit."
It sure beats Math 25b.